Published: Sun, March 31, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo in $6.9bn cancer push

AstraZeneca and Daiichi Sankyo in $6.9bn cancer push

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay $1.35bn to Daiichi for the cost of the drug, with a further $5.6bn to be paid if regulatory and sales milestones are met.

In 2017, trastuzumab deruxtecan was granted Breakthrough Therapy Designation by the US FDA for the treatment of patients with HER2-positive, locally-advanced or metastatic breast cancer who have been treated with trastuzumab and pertuzumab and have disease progression after trastuzumab emtansine. Contingent payments of up to $5.55 billion include $3.8 billion for potential successful achievement of future regulatory and other milestones, as well as $1.75 billion for sales-related milestones.

The therapy combines a drug with a new delivery mechanism that applies chemotherapy selectively to cancer cells, minimizing systemic exposure to the patient.

Daiichi has already begun a large development programme in North America, Europe and Asia, including five pivotal trials in HER2-expressing breast and gastric cancers.

George Nakayama, chairman and chief executive of Daiichi Sankyo, said: "Trastuzumab deruxtecan is the flagship asset in our oncology pipeline created by our relentless pursuit of science and technology, the most important strengths of our company". It is also being developed as a potential treatment for non-small cell lung cancer, as well as for gastric and colorectal cancers.

'In addition, it has the potential to redefine breast cancer treatment as the first therapy for HER2-low expressing tumours.

The drug, called trastuzumab deruxtecan, "could become a transformative new medicine" for the treatment of so-called HER2-positive breast and gastric cancers, Soriot said in a statement.

US to require breast density information after mammograms
The key changes include providing patients with information about breast density, in the form of a letter, with screening results. This would help cases where known and identified cancer is being evaluated via mammogram to determine therapy.

AstraZeneca's collaboration with Daiichi Sankyo, meanwhile, significantly escalates the company's investment in cancer.

"It also has the potential to treat other HER2-mutated or HER2-overexpressing cancers, including lung and colorectal cancers".

In breast cancer, drugs targeting a protein known as HER2 have become the standard of care, fueling billions of dollars of sales for Roche, which makes Herceptin, Perjeta and Kadcyla.

In return, Daiichi Sankyo will share global profits outside of Japan equally with AstraZeneca.

Projected to rake in US$7 billion annually at its peak, Daiichi's treatment has been seen to double survival time for advanced breast cancer patients to 20 months from 10, said UBS Securities Japan Co. analyst Atsushi Seki.

AstraZeneca is expected to book sales in all other markets worldwide, including China, Australia, Canada and Russian Federation.

'The transaction is expected to be neutral to core earnings in 2019, with growing Core EPS accretion from 2020 and making a significant contribution in 2023, ' AstraZeneca said. Daiichi expects to book sales in USA and parts of Europe, while AstraZeneca is expected to book sales in other markets including China, Australia, Canada and Russian Federation, said the companies.

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